Kelly Fitzgerald, chef at Bistro 112, arrived at his position nearly two years ago and had plans to fill his kitchen crew with experienced staffers. Instead, he found himself surrounded by a crew with little or no experience in the kitchen and to top that, they were all women. But whatever led the group to come together, it works and they produce delicious food and work well together.
"They are are a group with natural talent," Fitzgerald said this week. "I'm astounded at the great job. We put out great food without years of training," he continued.
Inspired by his all female staff, Fitzgerald took the initiative to create a video labeled "Girls at Work" on Facebook and You Tube. Being pleased with the outcome, he decided to send it to a television production company, not really expecting results.
But, results he got and the staff leaves this week to film a pilot episode of "Girls at Work" in New York. Hexane Production will film the Bistro women creating a Landscape Salad Melange with scallops, shrimp and crab. Basically, the melange encompasses 10 salads with three meats centered on top of mixed greens, Fitzgerald explained.
Emily Cleaveland, one of the trio who work at Bistro 112, said the whole experience is "terrifying but so exciting." She will be joined in the pilot by co-workers Shannon Pattajo and Sylvia Hawkins-Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald will serve as judge of the trio's efforts in preparing the dish.
The group travels to New York Aug. 5 with filing scheduled for Aug. 6. There is a potential for the concept to be further developed into a television reality show. The 30-minute pilot is one of four that will be submitted to major networks including ABC, NBC and PBS.
Cleaveland shared that she had previously been a nanny and had worked at Lost Dog Coffee in Shepherdstown, but had no real experience before coming to Bistro. Pattajo had previously been a teacher and, Fitzgerald said, she brought exceptional organization skills to the kitchen.
Hawkins-Fitzgerald, wife of the chef, had previous catering experience but had most recently worked in a dry cleaning business where she not only learned the cleaning aspect but did tailoring and other alterations.
"These three women of such diverse backgrounds work in harmony where food is involved," Fitzgerald shared. He went on to explain that restaurant work is not as easy as it may appear to someone outside the kitchen.
"There is a lot more to it than cooking food," he said.
"A chef is only as good as the people under him," Fitzgerald said as he heralded the team effort put forth every day as well as for this unique opportunity.
"It all happened so quickly," he said of the presentation of an idea to a request for a contract.
"There is no real down side," he said. "It will open doors for these individuals as well as for the Bistro," he said.
While the idea is exciting and could lead to future successes, the team at Bistro 112 have had to carry a portion of the financial burden necessary to prepare the pilot for presentation to the networks. A total of $5,000 was needed for the filming as well as some additional funds to help the group travel to New York. While Fitzgerald said that there have been some significant donations made to the effort, any additional support would be appreciated. Those wishing to help the Bistro staff assure there are no glitches in the financial aspect of their trip, can drop donations at the Bistro 112 restaurant. Time is of the essence for those who wish to assist the group as they leave Monday for the film shoot. For more information on helping, contact Fitzgerald at 304-876-8477.